Glorification of Masculinity in The Lost World
The male ego and the fulfillment of a man's own image of himself can be strong motivating forces behind his actions and behaviors. Society has created parameters used to define a "real" man; failing to live up to these specifications threatens one's masculinity and standing amongst one's peers. These expectations and requirements for manhood are constantly reinforced by society. The prevailing stereotype of the classic "Marlboro Man" along with movie heroes such as James Bond, Indiana Jones, and John Wayne give the impression of the adventurous ladies' man who laughs in the face of danger and can do no wrong. Arthur Conan Doyle's tale of adventure, The Lost World, is an excellent example of the search for manhood and glorification of masculinity. What begins as a scientific expedition turns into a journey to satisfy the suppressed male instincts and desires for conquest. With the search for knowledge as an appropriate excuse, the explorers of Maple-White land are free to indulge in the arts of "real" men and live up to their idealized conceptions of their own greatness.
From the very beginning of The Lost World, it is easy to see where the storyline is heading. Edward Malone is preparing to propose to his precious Gladys but is abruptly denied and told he is not quite man enough at this time to meet the ideals of his idolized beauty. Gladys explains that she wants a man of action, a man who "makes his own chances" (4). The whole reason for Malone's participation in the activities to come is to prove himself to Gladys through a sort of courtly love process to win her approval and hand in marriage.
To prove himself, Malone aids the famed Lord John Roxton in rushing a drunk man to help force feed the drunkard. Malone's first glimpse of Professor Challenger includes mention of "a huge spread of shoulders and a barrel of a chest" (17), while Roxton is noted as a famous sportsman (49) and Malone a quite famed player of rugby, "the manliest game we have left" (54). Even the drunkard is recognized by Roxton as "the best gentleman jock in the north country" (52) which somehow makes it seem that much more necessary to save him. All the qualities are based on the physical appearance and condition of the characters. Doyle defines men by what they have accomplished, the size of their chests, and their relative cranial sizes.
The bulk of this account from the journalist Malone takes place deep in the Amazon jungles of South America far from civilization and the comforts of industry and technology. It is like one big Boy Scout retreat. These professors and other gentlemen set out to find the undisturbed realm of the dinosaurs and end up finding and thrilling the adventurous spirits inside them. It is called a scientific expedition, but most of the actions taken are done to achieve personal satisfaction and advancement. Malone has made it clear that his only purpose of...